News

June 11, 2024

Court nullifies section 3 of Rivers Assembly Amendment Laws passed by Amaewhule 

Why I can’t sack Awomolo, Body of Benchers' chair — Judge

By Daniel Abia 

A Rivers State High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt and presided over by Justice Mrs Kariba Dagogo Jack, on Tuesday, nullified the amendment of Section 3 of the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission Law passed by the Martin Amaewhule-led Assembly.

The laws sought to strip the Governor of the constitutional power to appoint the Chairman and Members of the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission.

Delivering judgement on the matter which was brought before the court for consideration in a suit by a nongovernmental organization, NGO,  Association of Legal Legislative Drafting and Advocacy Practitioners, the presiding Judge said the amended law no 3, 2024, was inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, and as such it is null and void.

She said the Constitution unambiguously states that the Governor should constitute the House of Assembly Service Commission and some other commissions, boards and Institutes, but based on the confirmation of the Assembly. 

Justice Jack declared that the amendment which shifted the power to constitute the House of Assembly Service Commission to the Speaker, contravenes the doctrine of separation of powers which guarantees the right of the various arms of government to operate independently of each other.

The presiding Judge further stated that “the Rivers State House of Assembly is not authorized by law to exercise executive powers which includes the constitution of the Rivers State House of Assembly Commission, which is among bodies described in part two of the third schedule of the Constitution whose membership are to be constituted by the Governor”.

Speaking with Journalists shortly after the judgement, lead counsel for the NGO, Association of Legal Legislative Drafting and Advocacy Practitioners, Barr. Boma Owunabo, said “the suit was instituted in public interest to challenge the usurpation of executive powers by the Amaewhule-led Rivers State Assembly through the amendment”.

Barr. Owunabo said the NGO was dedicated to ensuring that every legislation in the country is in tandem with the provisions of the Constitution.

He commended the presiding Judge for her forthrightness, due assessment and evaluation of evidence before delivering the judgment, stating that “the judgment was a victory for good governance and the rule of law”.